The book was published in 1985, so this release has been a long time coming. The novel won both the Nebula (1985) and Hugo Award for Best Novel (1986). It has continued to be a favorite among young adults, comparable to the more recent Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and appears frequently on school assigned reading lists, as it did for WSA’s seventh graders this year. The story follows young Ender Wiggin in his journey through military training in a futuristic Earth. In Card’s world, Earth has been invaded by aliens, the Formics, which the human race only fought off by sacrificing war hero Mazer Rackham. Now the world’s leaders fear another invasion and have instituted schools to select and train children of particular strategic genius in the hopes of finding another hero to save them from the Formics. Ender is presented as the constant subject of torment from his school peers and his older brother. He eventually rises above them and is brought to Command School where he is told he must train to become the next Commander. He does this through a series of “simulations” where he directs troops in space battle and learn strategies for use when he assumes command. If you haven’t read the book, and want the ending to be a surprise, skip to the next paragraph. After a culminating “last simulation,” it is revealed that none of it was a game—he has actually been commanding the battles he was told were his training, and in doing so, has brought about the total annihilation of an alien species. Ender is devastated, and as the story ends, he hopes to make amends by protecting the last remaining Formic egg, becoming a “Speaker for the Dead,” the title of the sequel novel.
The film adaption retains most of these elements, much to my appreciation. However, a massive movement calling for a boycott of the movie has recently formed. The author of the source novel, Orson Scott Card, is a publicly anti-gay extremist, having served on the board of the National Organization for Marriage from 2009 to 2013. As he writes in an editorial for the Mormon Times in 2008, “regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.” One organization in favor of boycotting the film is Geeks OUT, which presents itself as speaking for the queer geek community. On their website, they highlight a quote from Card’s essay “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization,” printed in 2004, which reads as follows: “So if [they] insist on calling what they do ‘marriage,’ they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is. Instead they are attempting to strike a deathblow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage. They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes.”
The movie in itself is very good, receiving an overall 60% rating from the Rotten Tomatoes’ assembly of critics and 77% from fans, and many could argue that there exists a difference between a man and his art. According to The Wrap, Card has sold the film rights and he will not make any money off of box office sales, which means that boycotting the film will not affect him directly. However, he is still able to earn royalties from sales of his books, which would potentially increase proportionally to the movie’s box office sales. The question remains as to whether Ender’s Game viewers may want to consider viewing it or not: does watching this movie feels like supporting Orson Scott Card and therefore overlooking his anti-gay positions?